Cheryl Hadland, managing director and CEO of Tops Day Nurseries has once again raised concerns over under-funding of the Early Years sector following a report shared by the institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) and Nuffield Health.
A number of childcare providers across the country are worried they may have to close their doors for good after a study conducted by the IFS shows that more than double the amount of nurseries are running at a significant loss now compared to before lockdown.
While childcare settings were allowed to open to all children from the start of June, by the start of summer holidays demand for childcare places remained 70 per cent below pre-crisis levels. There is a risk that some childcare providers will close, creating a shortage of places once demand returns to ‘normal’ levels.
Even by mid-July childcare use was only around 30 per cent of its pre-crisis level. Over the coming year, the key question will be how much – and how quickly – demand for childcare recovers.
Cheryl is calling for supporting Early Years education providers.
Cheryl said, “Tops Day Nurseries have remained open throughout the pandemic at our hospital based nurseries and all 30 day nurseries have now re-opened. We have survived the pandemic so far thanks to furlough, no business rates, cutting all our costs to the bone, and receiving local authority funding for children not in attendance, but we still made a loss in August.
“There is a misconception that the ‘free childcare’ advertised by the government and councils for many years is actually free. It is not free, it is subsidised by low paid staff and struggling employers. Of the funding provided by the Government, Local Authorities provide nurseries with around £4 per hour per funded child, but it costs at least £5-£6 per hour to provide childcare and education, and more in high property value areas.”
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